Scoop Review of Books

Monkey Business

SRB Picks of the Week 30 May 2008
:By Jeremy Rose

In this week’s SRB Picks: Was Shakespeare an Italian Jewess? Janet Frame and the Marx Brothers, and; the Charleston Heston of the motorcar Jeremy Clarkson at Britain’s premier literary fest.
Germaine Greer’s recent book Shakespeare’s Wife made the case that there was far more to Ann Hathaway than the supposedly illiterate schemer of traditional Shakespeareology Now an amateur Shakespeare buff, John Hudson, has gone one better and proposed Shakespeare was actually a Jewish woman – or at least the Shakespeare that composed the famous sonnets was. Nutty? Probably but decide for yourself.

Shakespeare wouldn’t be the first famous artist to be mistakenly labeled a Jew. Charlie Chaplin found himself listed in a Jewish Who’s Who and the Nazis, who despised him for his classic attack on Hitler – The Great Dictator – also declared him a Jew. When a Nazi accused Chaplin to his face of being a Jew – Chaplin replied: “That’s one honour I don’t have.” Beautiful.

As far as I know no-one’s tried to claim Janet Frame as a Jewess but there’s no questioning the Jewishness of The Marx Brothers who feature in a story by the late author in the latest New Yorker Magazine.

Britain’s Hay literary festival has been dominating the books pages of its newspapers this week and the Guardian has a series of podcasts featuring some of the stars – who include everyone from the aforementioned Jeremy Clarkson to Gore Vidal, Christopher Hitchens, George Monbiot and Naomi Klein. They’re worth a listen – though I don’t reckon the interviewer is as good as some of our local talent.

Haycast 05:
Colin Tudge gives advice on averting the global food crisis, John Reader extols the potato, and Matt Seaton rides bikes while Jeremy Clarkson sounds off

Haycast 02: The state of America: Gore Vidal chats to Claire Armitstead, while Christopher Hitchens, Naomi Klein and George Monbiot dissect religion and politics in the House of Hay

To subscibe to SRB Picks of the Week click on the subscribe tab at the top of our home page.